The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of drama for two Australian men, who, in a legal battle to resolve their differences, have found themselves at the centre of an international court battle over the best way to be recognised as divorce papers partners.
The pair, Matthew and Daniel Curnow, were both working in a coffee shop when their father died in 2015.
Mr Curnotow was an avid gardener, and Matthew, an IT engineer, had started his own business after leaving school.
Matthew was an English teacher, while Daniel was a university student who worked for the University of Sydney.
They were married on July 23, 2016, in Brisbane, in the presence of their three children.
He died of pneumonia two days later.
Their family then travelled to Australia from New Zealand to get married, where they lived for the rest of their lives.
In May, 2016 they filed a divorce notice in the Northern Territory Supreme Court, which led to a court hearing in July, 2017, in Canberra.
At that hearing, Matthew argued that Daniel should be considered as his partner in Australia and should be entitled to the same legal rights and benefits as him, even if he did not live with him.
But in an appeal to the Federal Court, the court agreed that Daniel was the partner in Queensland, which meant that he should also be recognised for the right to divorce in Australia.
“They were arguing that the Northern Territories was a separate country, separate jurisdiction, separate court,” says lawyer Peter Stirling.
However, he says that the Supreme Court disagreed.
It was in the Supreme Committee of the Federal Parliament that the case was taken up, and on March 22, 2018, the Federal Government’s High Court decided that the issue was a matter for the Australian courts.
A new legal arrangement was made.
Matthew and his partner, Daniel were granted the same rights and protections in Australia as their Australian partner, regardless of their location.
Under the new arrangements, they were allowed to apply for an Australian passport, travel and get married.
When they got married, they also were given Australian citizenship, and they were given all the rights of their Australian spouse, including the right of divorce, and to get divorced if they wanted to.
With the court ruling, Matthew was recognised as the partner and the legal separation was ended.
His wife and children moved back to Australia.
His parents are now in Australia, and he and his family continue to live together.
If you would like more information on this story, or to donate to the Curnows, contact the Ceddys on 08 554 2077.